NATO Minehunters Arrive In Tunisia

M-268 TCG Akçakoca.

NATO’s Standing Mine Counter Measures Group 2 will start a 5 day port visit in La Goulette, Tunisia today.

Captain Abdulhamit Sener from the Turkish Navy is leading the SNMCMG2, and will also chair a press conference scheduled for Friday, February 10th, on board the flagship “Mehmetpasa.”

The mission of this NATO group is to protect shipping lanes against the threat of sub-surface mines. Their secondary mission is to conduct scientific research about the Tunisian marine environment.

This visit will provide the NATO crew with an opportunity to communicate the nature of their activities to Tunisian authorities and visit historical and cultural sites of Tunis and its suburbs as well.

The relations between Tunisia and NATO date back to 1994, when Tunisia joined the NATO Mediterranean Dialogue – a forum of cooperation between NATO and seven non-NATO countries on the Mediterranean. The forum aims at “contributing to regional security and stability, achieving better mutual understanding and dispelling any misconceptions about NATO among dialogue countries,” according to the mission statement posted on NATO’s website.

This is the current composition of SNMCMG-2:

Number
Name
Nation
Participants
A-577 TCG Sokullu Mehmet Paşa Turkey Flagship
M-268 TCG Akcakoca Turkey Minehunter
M-34 SPS Turia Spain Minehunter
5556 ITS Alghero Italy Minehunter
M-30 HMS Ledbury UK Minehunter

TCG Giresun Exercised With Russians And EUNAVFOR In Gulf Of Aden

Russian destroyer Admiral Tributs. Photo: EUNAVFOR.

The Turkish flagship of NATO’s  Standing Maritime Group 2 F-491 TCG Giresun took part in a joint replenishment at sea exercise with EUNAVFOR and Russian ships in Gulf of Aden.

According to the EU Navfor press release the Europeans showed their replenishment at sea skills first and later watched how Russians do it.

The flagship of EUNAVFOR,  A-14 SPS Patiño refueled the Turkish frigate later, the exercise was repeated by the Russian flagship Admiral Tributs with the Russian tanker Pechenga.

Unfortunately EUNAVFOR press corps did not made any photos during this trilateral  exercise.

During the morning (of 31th January 2012) , the EU NAVFOR and NATO ships demonstrated to several Russian observers on-board the two Flagships a RAS manoeuvre where the ships steer parallel courses only 40 – 50 metres apart while passing fuel between the ships. In the afternoon, the same challenging seamanship exercise was performed by the Russian Task Force units, this time watched by EU NAVFOR and NATO observers

The exercise was coordinated to improve the interoperability among ships from different forces that operate in the Horn of Africa countering Somali pirates.

Proud Manta 2012

It is once again time for the NATO’s biggest anti submarine warfare (ASW) exercise Proud Manta.

From 14-26 February 2012, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States. will provide 5 submarines, 15 aircraft and 12 surface ships take part in  this exercise. The exercise will take place in the Ionian Sea to the southeast of Sicily.

The NATO’s own research ship A-1456 Alliance will participate to the exercise as well as ASW planes from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Norway and USA. The UK will only provide 2 EH-101 ASW helicopters.

The exercise will demonstrate NATO’s determination to maintain proficiency and improve interoperability in coordinated anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, coastal surveillance and other maritime operations using a multi-national force of ships, submarines and aircraft.  Furthermore it will aim to provide operational training in potential NRF tasks/roles and missions as well as exercising the procedures for current or future operations. The units will also be exercised in defence against terrorism operations.

Order of Battle for Proud Manta 12 is:

Surface Ships
FFG-339 HMCS Charlottetown Frigate Canada
D-643 FS Jean De Vienne Destroyer France
F-209 FGS Rheinland-Pflaz Frigate Germany
A-1443 FGS Rhön Replenishment Tanker Germany
D-561 ITS Francesco Mimbelli Destroyer Italy
F-576 ITS Espero Frigate Italy
A-5352 ITS Lipari Tender Italy
A-5366 ITS Levanzo Tender Italy
F-804 HNLMS De Ruyter Frigate Netherlands
CG-72 USS Vella  Gulf Cruiser USA
DGG-68 USS The Sullivans Destroyer USA
FGG-45 USS De Wert Frigate USA
Submarines
S-605 FS Améthyste Rubis/Améthyste cl. France
S-111 NS Nirefs Type 209/1100 Mod. Greece
S-527 ITS Sciré Type 212A Italy
S-71 SPS Galerna Agosta S70 Spain
S-357 TCG Gür Type 209 /1400 Turkey

Click for previous years Proud Manta Exercise News.

The Battle For The TF-2000 Project Has Started

F-105 SPS Cristóbal Colón

Last week the marketing department of the Spanish shipbuilder Navantia send the following press release to a small group of Turkish defense journalists, about the latest Spanish F-100 class frigate F-105 Cristóbal Colón.

NAVANTIA PREPARES SPANISH NAVY’S FIFTH FRIGATE FOR SEA TRIALS

On 9th. January, the F-100 class frigate “Cristóbal Colón”, under construction in Navantia for the Spanish Navy, left the shipyard dry dock after a period of dry docking for hull and platform readiness for sea trials, that will take place in March 2012.

During this month, Navantia will proceed to the completion of the Combat System integration functional trials, in order to have the sea trials in May. The frigate is now in the final phase of construction, and after the sea trials it is expected to be commissioned next July.

The fifth frigate incorporates new solutions and technology that will fullfill the most demanding challenges for present and future threats:

Multipurpose Vessel excellent performance in all types of sea states Multipurpose ship
Medium-size ocean escort vessel.
Optimised for operating as flagship in conflict scenarios with capability to be part of an allied fleet and support expeditionary forces.
Capability to flexibly operate in littoral waters or high seas conditioned to conflict challenges.
High air warfare capability.

It also incorporates important improvements in systems and equipment:
Lockheed Martin Aegis System linked to Radar SPY-1D (V).
Integration of new Spanish sensors and weapons into the Aegis System by means of a new version of CDS developed by Navantia- FABA Systems.
New IPMS developed by Navantia – FABA Systems.
Updated system of the Navigation Data Distribution Network.
Navantia/Caterpillar Bravo 16V propulsion engines.
RAS sliding padeyes.
Retractable bow thruster for ship manoeuvring and emergency.

Main features:
– Waterline Length ……………………..133.20 m
– Full Load Displacement ………………6,041 t
– Full Load Draught ………………………5.00 m
– Maximum speed …………………………28.5 knots
– Cruising speed ………………………..18 knots
– Endurance at Cruising Speed ………….4,500 miles
– Crew ………………………………. 234 persons

Significant shipbuilding data:
– Number of compartments: 573
– Tons of Hull Steel: 2.450 t.
– Metres of cable: 315.000 m.
– Metres of piping : 37.000 m.

Just Two days after Navantia send the press release the following news of UK’s Financial times about the BAE, found its way into one of the Turkey influential newspapers Hürriyet. The original FT story is behind a paywall, therefore I am putting here a slightly shortened version of it.

BAE looks abroad to save UK shipyards

By Carola Hoyos, Defence Correspondent

BAE Systems, Europe’s largest defence contractor, is in talks with Brazil and Turkey, to secure orders for the company’s most advanced warship in the hopes it could save its UK shipyards from closure.

The company is reviewing its business in light of cuts in UK defence spending, including considering whether to close one of its three shipyards in Glasgow and Portsmouth. 

In contrast to the UK, Brazil and Turkey are expanding their navies, with BAE earlier this month having sold Brazil three ocean patrol boats for £133m – the biggest naval deal with the country so far. Now BAE hopes to sell them the Type-26 Global Combat Ship, its newest warship, which will support anti-submarine capabilities and have the potential to add air defence capabilities, but is still in the design stage.

Many of the world’s emerging economies, including Brazil and Turkey, want to build as much of their fleet as possible at home.

But experts say the T-26 is so technically complicated that the first few examples may need to be built in the UK with Turkish and Brazilian engineers learning the production process before they take the knowledge home to build subsequent ships there. Such an arrangement would extend the life of BAE’s shipyards.

BAE said it was actively looking to work with Brazil and Turkey on its naval expansion plans. “This includes exploring the potential for Turkey to bring its maritime expertise to the Global Combat Ship programme to jointly develop ships for Turkey.” 

BAE’s says by reviewing its shipbuilding business it is keeping its part of the deal. Filling the gaps left by order delays and cuts has proved far from easy and BAE has already come under fire from unions and politicians for cutting jobs in its jet fighter business.

The future – at least in the medium term – lies with new orders from countries that may want to do the work themselves, but still need the UK’s infrastructure and experienced engineers to help them learn how to do it. To secure the shipyards in the long term, BAE will have to keep on the edge of technical advancement and hope that its biggest customers’ budgets and military ambitions recover.

Shopping for ships: Where BAE sees opportunities for its Type-26 Global Combat Ship

Turkey

  • The current national ship-building programme is called Milgem, which is for the construction of corvettes – small, lightly armed warships – already under way in Turkey by Turkish industry
  • Turkey has ambitions to strengthen further its naval fleet and BAE is exploring opportunities for partnerships in the maritime sector, and that could include the Global Combat Ship, which is still in the design stage

Brazil

  • The national naval equipment programme Prosuper includes a requirement for five ocean patrol vessels, five frigates and one logistics support vessel
  • BAE claims that the recent sale of three OPVs to Brazil, plus the manufacturing licence, positions the company well for future contracts.

I do not believe in coincidences much. And personally I do not think there is room for coincidences in the highly competitive marketing of defense industries. So why did two of the biggest shipbuilders of Europa reminded themselves to the Turkish public?

It is obvious that The Battle For The TF-2000 Project has started and the interested parties are drawing their lines.

TF-2000 is the next big deal for the Turkish Navy. And unlike the current on going constructions projects of the Turkish Navy, there is a huge income potential for the foreign defense companies. TF-2000 will be an anti-air warfare frigate that will survival in the presence of aerial threats and will provide also support functions such as command control and communication, reconnaissance, early warning, surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare and electronic warfare. Technicaly speaking TF-2000 will be larger and more complex than the Milgem and any other frigate in the inventory of the Turkish Navy.

While the mayor foreign input on Milgem was limited to weapon systems, radar and main machinery. But as the TF-2000 ships are going to have more complex software, sensors and weapon systems there is more room for foreign companies to push their solutions.

There are two full breed AAW solutions avaliable for Turkish Navy:

1) AEGIS sensor and command and control software suite + SM-2/3 Standart SAM missile family

2) S 1850M + EMPAR / SAMPSON sensor and command and control software suite + Aster 15/30 SAM missile family

A third option is a mix of the above mentioned systems: SMART-L + APAR sensor and command and control software suite + SM-2/3 Standart SAM missile family

Spain and Norway have chosen the first solution. Italy, France and UK opted for the second solution. The Netherlands Denmark and Germany have chosen the third way.

I regards the above statements from Navantia and BAE Systems as the opening shots of  The Battle For The TF-2000 Project. We all will see where the events will take us from here.

 

For further reading click here.

Kuznetsov in Eastern Mediterranean

Almost one month after her departure and weeks after the announcement of her departure, the sole Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov and her battle group arrived in Eastern Mediterranean.

The Russian battle group includes the destroyer Admiral Chabanenko, the support vessel Nikolay Chiker and the tanker Sergey Osipov from the Northern Fleet, the frigate Yaroslav Mudry from the Baltic Fleet and the frigate Ladny from the Black Sea Fleet.

According to Greek newspaper Ta Nea, The Russian naval group conducted exercises on 5th and 6th of January in Ionian Sea, 80-90 miles southwest of Pylos.

What the Russian naval group will do after this exercise is not clear yet, but I guess as they head for a easterly course, they might conduct exercises with Turkish Navy too, as they did the last time when Admiral Kuznetsov was in the region.

Peace On Earth

The Enemy(!) through the periscope of a Greek submarine

As a photographer I am a firm believer of the saying “one photo is better that thousand words”.

The above is a photo from the official web page of Greek Naval Forces. Please mind that the photo is only in the Greek part of the web site and cannot be found on the English part. The photo shows the Turkish frigate F-497 TCG Göksu, taken from the periscope of a Greek submarine. The original photo can be found at the “Shots” section of the Photo Gallery of Greek Navy.

I assume that the photo was made during or after an international exercise where the Turkish frigate and the Greek submarine took part.

My assumption is based on the following points:

  1. The Turkish frigate is not moving and transferring crew to a small boat.
  2. The angle of the photo indicates that the submarine was on the surface and the periscope was raised as the photo does not look up to the Turkish ship if the submarine would be submerged and the periscope would be just above the sea level. Thus the Greek submarine was visible to the Turkish ship.

All this points show that the photo was made during a relaxed time and not when the two adversaries were playing cat and mouse, but this should not fool us.

Such periscope shots are sought after prices in naval community as they show how close the target was to be shot at by the submarine; such photos prove that the submarine has caught its enemy with its pants down.

But why on earth would a naval force of a nation puts a picture of an other nations warship taken through the periscope of a submarine? If they are not declaring their ill intent and their hatred towards the other nation what would be their message? Or does the Greek Naval Forces want to justify their existence by implying that they can shot other nations warships?

What this photo conveys us is clear and unmistakable aggression and open hostility. And nothing else.

The end of December is a time of the year when we all  hope and prey for a better future. So when you go where ever you go to prey for a better future and peace on earth please do a little harder this time, as there are many who do not want peace at all.

A Review Of Construction Projects For Turkish Navy

This is a quick review of the current status of the construction project for Turkish Navy:

Active
Pre Production
Production
Post Production
Milgem
1
10
1
0
New class patrol craft
2
5
5
4
214 Type submarine
0
6
0
0
LPD
0
1
0
0
LST
0
2
0
0
LCT
0
3
2
3
LCAC
0
4
0
0
Mine sweepers
0
6
0
0
Salvage Ships
0
3
0
0
Fleet Support Ships
0
3
0
0

Active: In Service.

Pre Production: The actual production has not started. Which means the project/vessel is in planning, acquisition, design phase.

Production: The actual production is continuing.

Post Production: The actual production is finished. Which means the vessels are being fitted out.


Order Of Battle: Turkish Navy

It has been a while since I have last updated the order of battle for Turkish Navy. Here is the current one:

Active
Building
Planned
Submarines (Note 1)
14
6
Frigates (Note 2)
17
Corvettes
7
1
10
Fast Attack Craft – Missile
26
1
Patrol Craft (Note 3)
19
11
4
Minehunters/sweepers (Note 4)
19
1
6
LPD (Note 5)
1
LST (Note 6)
5
2
LCT/LCU/LCM (Note 7)
24
8
Fleet Support Tankers
2
Tankers / Replenishment Ships (Note 8)
4
1
Training Ships (Note 9)
10
2
Salvage Ships (Note 10)
3
3
Helicopters (Note 11)
31
7
Planes (Note 12)
6
10

A detailed version of the above list:

Active
Building
Planned
209 Type 1400 submarines
8
209 Type 1200 submarines
6
214 Type 1800 submarines (Note 1)
6
MEKO 200 class frigates
8
Gabya (Perry) class frigates
8
Tepe (Knox) class frigates (Note 2)
1
Milgem class corvettes
1
1
10
Burak (A 69) class corvettes
6
Kılıç class fast attack craft
8
1
Yıldız class fast attack craft
2
Doğan class fast attack craft
8
Kartal class fast attack craft
8
New class patrol craft (Note 3) 1
11
4
Patrol craft
 18
Aydın (MHV 54) class minehunters
5
1
Edincik (Circé) class minehunters
5
Mine hunters/sweepers (Note 4)
9
6
LPD (Note 5)
1
LST (Note 6)
5
2
LCT/LCU/LCM (Note 7)
24
8
Akar class support tankers
2
Tankers (Note 8)
4
1
Training ships (Note 9)
10
2
Salvage ships (Note 10)
3
3
AB-212 ASW helicopters
14
S-70B ASW helicopters (Note 11)
17
7
ATR-72 ASW planes (Note 12)
10
CN-235 ASW planes (Note 12)
6

Note 1: The contract was signed but the construction of the Type 214 class submarines has not started officially.
Note 2: It is possible that a second Knox class frigate may still be in service.
Note 3: As the production is continuing in modular sections it is not clear how many ships are being built simultaneously.
Note 4: Procurement of 6 new mine sweepers is planned.
Note 5: The tender process is continuing.
Note 6: The contract was signed but the construction of the two LST’s has not started officially.
Note 7: As the production is continuing in modular sections it is not clear how many ships are being built simultaneously.
Note 8: Procurement of one new replenishment tanker is planned.
Note 9: It is planned to acquire two sailing training ships.
Note 10: The contract was signed but the construction of one submarine rescue ships and two salvage ships, have not started officially.
Note 11: It is reported the construction of 17 helicopters is finished but the fitting of the military hardware is continuing.
Note 12: The planes are not commissioned officially.

Sea Of Friendship 2011

Turkish and Egyptian navies will take part in exercise called   Bahr El-Muhabbe (Sea of Friendship) between 17 and 23 December 2011. The exercise will be hosted by Turkey and will be executed in Eastern Mediterranean.

According to the press release of Turkish Navy, the aim of the exercise is to develop mutual cooperation and interoperability between two navies.

Turkey will participate with two frigates, two fast attack craft, one tug, two patrol boats and one special forces team. Additionally airplanes from Turkish Navy and Air Force will take part in the exercise too. Egypt will submit two frigates,  two fast attack craft, one replenishment tanker, one helicopter and one special forces team.

The location and the timing of this exercise are well worth of noting. And further more my inner voice tells me that at least one ex- Perry class frigate from both navies will take part in this exercise.  And on board of Turkish G class frigate the Turkish officers will show off their modern CIC and the GENESIS modernization to their Egyptian counterparts.

TCG Gediz Disrupts A Pirate Mother Ship and Skiff

F-495 TCG Gediz during a naval parade in Dardanelles in March 2011.

One of the two frigates Turkey has sent to Gulf Of Aden for anti piracy operations, F-495 TCG Gediz disrupted a pirate mother ship and a skiff according to Combined Maritime Forces.  TCG Gediz has received the GENESİS combat suit modernization  and she is the first frigate of this class to receive the  MK-41 VLS upgrade. Here is the details of her actions:

The task force received a report of an attack on the merchant vessel MV JEANNE as it transited international waters off the coast of the Somalia/Kenya border. CTF 151 Commander, Rear Admiral Kaleem Shaukat, Pakistan Navy tasked GEDIZ, patrolling in the area, to search for the skiff that had participated in the attack.

GEDIZ located a suspected mother ship for the pirate action group operating in this area, a group which included the skiff responsible for the earlier attack on MV JEANNE, Nov 21.  This vessel was also suspected of involvement in two other recent attacks in this operating area.  GEDIZ’s boarding team conducted a search of the vessel, and destroyed all equipment associated with piracy, including multiple grappling hooks and a boarding ladder.

GEDIZ identified the suspected pirate skiff and witnessed the crew toss multiple items overboard, including grappling hooks and what appeared to be weapons.  When GEDIZ was in close enough proximity for a more thorough examination of the skiff, they assessed that it presented no further threat and that all materiel involved in possible acts of piracy had been discarded. Upon completion of these successful operations, Rear Admiral Shaukat stated:

“These most recent disruptions have once again shown the high capability and professionalism of TCG GEDIZ and the Turkish Navy.  I commend the captain and crew on a job well done in pursuing suspected pirates and disrupting their ability to conduct further attacks.”

In accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolutions, and in cooperation with non-member forces, CTF 151’s mission is to disrupt piracy and armed robbery at sea and to engage with regional and other partners to build capacity and improve relevant capabilities, in order to protect global maritime commerce and secure freedom of navigation.  CTF 151 is one of three task forces operating under the US-led Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), a 25-nation coalition.  CTF 151’s counter-piracy operations focus on the Gulf of Aden, Southern Red Sea, Arabian Sea and Somali Basin, an area encompassing 2.5 million square miles.

It is a pity that the pirates were not detained but when they throw their tool-of-trade over the board there is not much left to do.

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